Paterson, NJ Passaic Rolling Mills Explosion, May 1898


Big Works of the Passaic Rolling Mills Badly Damaged.

PATERSON, N. J., May 4.--Two men were killed, several injured, and the big works of the Passaic Rolling Mills badly damaged by an explosion which occurred in the boiler room at 4:15 this morning. The steel plate department, which was being run at full capacity to fill Government orders, was not damaged. The dead are Edward Courser, a boiler tender, and William Sherlocke, a fireman, and the seriously injured are Charles McCollough, Emil Devries, and Pasquale Marco.

Two of the boilers in the boiler room exploded and a part of one of them, which was thrown five hundred feet in the air, landed a block away. The boiler house, which was a large brick building separated somewhat from the rest of the works, and containing fourteen boilers, was totally wrecked. The explosion tore the twelve remaining boilers from their foundations, and when the confused tangle of twisted steel and débris is untangled it is believed that all of them will be found to have been ruined. Some of the pieces of the boilers, each one of which weighed half a ton, were found 500 yards away from the boiler house, and one piece, weighing more than a ton, after wrecking an engine, was hurled through a thick brick wall. Alongside of the boiler house ran a trestle switch, on which were several coal gondolas. One of these was blown from the track and fell upon a car on the switch below. The tracks of the Erie Railroad were blocked for several hours with the débris.

Courser's body was burned and scalded so as to be unrecognizable but for parts of the clothing found on it. Sherlocke's body has not yet been recovered. The cause of the explosion is not known. The boilers had just been overhauled and were in good condition. Some of the men claim that the explosion occurred in one of the boilers which was not in use, but the pile of wreckage is too dense for any one to tell just what happened. About 500 men will be temporarily out of work as a result of the accident.

The New York Times, New York, NY 5 May 1898